It’s that time of year again, the time of year when I’m about a month out from starting to teach at the University of Washington’s Professional and Continuing Education (PCE) program on cloud computing.
And, given that, I need to come up with a curriculum. What am I going to teach these students? I’ve been procrastinating a bit, to tell the truth. Last year I thought I did a good job of getting together topics that were both relevant and hands-on, but it seems like I’m worried about missing some new trend in the industry that has just recently popped up that my students should know about.
There’s actually a lot that goes in to creating a good curriculum. Off the top of my head:
1) What is the background of the students? How technical are they? How technical do they want to be? How diverse are their backgrounds – i.e. are some students already day-to-day cloud developers, while others haven’t touched a line of code in a while?
2) What’s trending? What are the “thought leaders” in the cloud space talking about now?
3) What’s the installed base? That’s a sort of old-school world for “what’s popular now, merely by sheer volume”. To use an analogy in the automotive industry, Toyotas are installed base; Teslas are trending.
4) What is my expertise? This is important. If you teach it, you have to know it. Sometimes in our industry the “knowing” part comes down to only knowing about the context – how something fits in to the big picture, and sometimes that’s enough. Of course there is always the handy skill – which is teachable, by the way – of knowing how to go about looking for more information on a particular topic.
5) What are the program’s goals? This can be further split into “what are the goals as stated right now”, and “what direction is the program heading towards?” We have some very smart insiders on our board and I need to make sure I’m trying to hit the overall goals that have been established for the program.
6) What are others doing? Cloud computing programs like this are not (yet) very widespread, but I’m sure with a little digging I could sort out what others are doing, as a point of reference, or a benchmark. It’s only a short horizontal step to online learning, of which I’m sure there elebenty billion offerings on tap, mostly specialized to a particular platform or product or technology, but again, good input.
7) What worked last year? Yes, I felt like last year’s Cloud 302 program worked pretty well, so I should take the topics that seemed to work well and, unless I have good reason to exclude them (because of obsolescence, or obviousness, or whatever) keep them again this year. Some topics, like authorization and authentication across the wire, never go out of style (although best practice implementations and guidelines may change).
That’s a lot of things to consider. If you were coming up with a list of heuristics for developing a Cloud Computing In Action curriculum, what would you include?